What if I told you that there is a bright side of psychopathy? There are, in fact, two types of psychopaths.
The majority of us view psychopaths with a degree of fear and trepidation. This is in no small part due to the way the media have portrayed them. Callous, cold-hearted, lacking empathy or conscience, typically prone to violence and manipulation. How can this personality type possibly have a bright side?
You will be surprised to learn that there are actually two types of psychopaths. Moreover, one of these types can be helpful, pleasant and cooperative. Researchers have described these two types of psychopaths as primary and secondary.
Natalie Engelbrecht, a psychotherapist who researches Abnormal Psychology, says that:
“Basically, a primary psychopath is born, not raised, while a secondary psychopath is raised, not born.”
In order to identify further characteristics associated with both types of psychopaths, a study was carried out at the University of Bonn.
Here researchers described certain ‘independent personality dimensions’, the first one referred to as ‘fearless dominance’ which is most noted in primary psychopaths. The second personality dimension is ‘self-centered impulsivity’ which is noted within secondary psychopaths.
Those who have the fearless dominance trait do not fear the consequences of their actions and can withstand stress very well.
Those who display the self-centered impulsivity trait have no inner brake or self-control and do not care about the feelings of others.
So what does this mean regarding the bright side of psychopathy? Which psychopath can be helpful and cooperative?
We have to delve into each type of psychopath a little further:
Primary psychopaths do not care what anyone thinks of them. The only opinion that matters to them is their own. They believe that they stand head and shoulders above everyone else in the world. To them, the normal rules of society do not apply, and so this means that they can get away with murder. They are immune to any forms of punishment, disapproval and they do not feel stress or anxiety.
Primary psychopaths have no direction in life but are known to be fearless and dominant.
It is this fearless dominance that matters when it comes to whether a primary psychopath can be helpful and cooperative. Researchers showed that those psychopaths who displayed a high level of fearless dominance were also described by their colleagues as helpful, cooperative, and pleasant.
“But that was true only when these primary psychopaths also had marked social skills”, says Nora Schütte. “Above all that included skills that are generally important at work – such as the gift of making others feel well.”
Secondary psychopaths do take risks and they also react badly to stressful situations. However, despite this, they are known to do well in this kind of environment as they like to live a life of high drama and temptation.
Work colleagues, however, rated secondary psychopaths as ‘unhelpful, destructive and typically poor workers’, compared to their primary counterparts.
In fact, those employees with a higher level of self-centered impulsivity were consistently described by their colleagues as not very helpful weak in performing and particularly destructive in their dealings with other. This was regardless of whether their social skills were high or low.
“These persons with high values in secondary psychopathy thus really do have the postulated negative effects upon their work environment,” emphasizes Schütte. “And to a much greater degree than when we examine both groups together.”
So it appears that it is the independent personality dimensions that matter more than a diagnosis of psychopathy. As Schütte argues for a differentiated view of how we look at the term of a personality disposition ‘psychopathy’.
Researchers assert that even if a person has psychopathic traits, they can still be a valuable member of society, as one states:
“Persons with a high degree of fearless dominance can even be selfless heroes in everyday life, such as lifesavers, emergency physicians, or firefighters.”
So as you see from the above, everything in life, even psychopathy, can have a bright side.